Yet another Caricom summit has come and gone but what remains constant is the region's failure to implement major programmes such as the Caricom Single Market and Economy (CSME).
Added to that, at the Montego Bay Summit which ended on Wednesday, is the inability and or refusal of certain governments to invest in the Caricom Development Fund and to bear the cost of implementing a region-wide security system. It has become clich�d for Caricom leaders at the opening and closing ceremonies of the heads of government meetings to take the blame for the slow pace of economic integration and more. While the grand admissions are made, the proposed industrial production across the region for the export market under the CSME remains unfulfilled with the member states unable to win new sources of foreign currency.��
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar had a time of her life making the point that this country cannot continue to subsidise member states with development funding. Moreover, she was sure that funding of projects by T&T must now be directly tied to some form of benefit to be reaped. Yes, it is acknowledged that T&T's manufacturers thrive in the markets of Caricom, they being the most efficient and successful manufacturers and exporters in the region. However, that has come at a price and other countries cannot seriously ask them to retreat from that position of eminence. Indeed, what other Caricom states need to do is to assist their manufacturers to become world competitive through the long talked about bringing together of resources, human and material, to be able to export to the rest of the world.
In this respect, PM Persad-Bissessar must demand that member states take measures to advance the CSME before there can be any commitment to make a further contribution to the Caricom Development Fund. One expects too that by the end of the bilateral discussions between Prime Ministers Golding and Persad-Bissessar on Caribbean Airlines there will emerge concrete benefits for this country as well as the tourist economies of the region. However, it cannot be that Caribbean Airlines will be made to function in the best interest of the tourism economies of the region while T&T provides subsidies for the operation of the airline. The Government should also link further financial assistance to support for Caribbean Airlines in being named as the flag carrier of recipient countries which would benefit from airlift into their tourism-dependent economies. The governments of those countries, at least initially, must come forward with equity capital of one kind or the other for the Trinidad-based airline.�
With regard to the danger of not being able to achieve a regional security agenda, because this country cannot fund the US$40 million needed, that is a particularly dangerous outcome. It is well known that drug dealers and gun-runners operate in the region without concern for national boundaries. Therefore the absence of a well-funded security system will affect all member states.�But the T&T Prime Minister is correct that this country cannot and should not shoulder responsibility for the entire project.�However, Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar's insistence against this country's participation in the Caribbean Court of Justice as T&T's final court of appeal, another note of negativity at the summit, is quite worrying.
Moreover, the Prime Minister sounded quite dismissive in her statement on the CCJ, saying that it is not a matter of importance in the scheme of things. She, like other Caricom leaders who continue to relegate the development of a quality Caribbean court as being of little significance, must understand that non-material matters, such as the region having its own final court of appeal, are of immense qualitative value.�Such a court cannot be measured in material terms. Rather, it should be considered of incalculable value to human development and a Caribbean civilisation.